A guide to whisky glasses – what you need to know

Any whisky connoisseur knows that the type of glass they drink from is a key part of enjoying the drink, but why is this? What makes the whisky glass such a fierce topic of debate?

What are the different types of whisky glasses?

For a start, there are several types of whisky glasses. The one a drinker prefers will depend on both their personal taste and how they like to drink whisky.

For whisky “on the rocks” (i.e., simply poured over ice cubes), a short plain tumbler with a wide mouth and straight sides is ideal. Many prefer a thick base, or a tumbler with a wide top to release the aroma of the whisky.

A shot glass is designed for quick drinking, as they can tip the glass back and drink the whisky in one go. A shot glass is not for those who like to take their time over an expensive whisky, savouring its aroma and smoky flavour.

Some struggle with the strong and bitter taste of neat whisky, preferring to mix it with water or soft drinks like cola or lemonade. The highball glass is suitable for a longer drink when adding whisky to mixers.

The Glencairn glass is tulip-shaped, which funnels the aromas as the whisky is drunk, while the Glencairn glass is preferred by many single malt drinkers who like to swirl the whisky around the glass to oxygenate it before drinking.

Some whisky drinkers like the snifter glass, which has a tulip shape and a short stem. It has similarities with the Glencairn glass, but is more like a brandy glass.

When using whisky as the base for a cocktail, use a cocktail glass or champagne flute with a wide opening.

Perhaps a more unusual type of whisky glass is the tilted one, but more on that later.

What are the best makes of whisky glass?

When choosing a whisky glass, don’t go by the shape alone. The weight and balance of the glass, adding up to how it feels in the hand, are important.

A whisky glass can be made from plain glass or crystal. If you want the luxury of crystal, go for the Earle Crystal whisky glass that features a cut glass pattern.

For a simple but stylish plain glass tumbler, choose the Islande whisky glass. This has a thick bottom and feels solid when held.

There is also the Strauss whisky glass – a traditional tumbler glass with a square base.

Whatever make of whisky glass you go for, why not personalise it by adding an engraving? If the whisky glass is a present, buy one with a presentation box lined with silklike material.

Why are some whisky glasses tilted?

A tilted whisky glass has a convex (meaning raised like the back of a spoon) base that keeps it tilted at an angle when placed on a flat surface. This unusual glass is a talking point when people see it for the first time. However, it’s not designed just for conversation, as tilting allows the flavours of the whisky to unlock and release the aromas.

Drinkers pick up tilted glasses and swirl the liquid around to further enjoy the aromas before sipping. This adds drama to the drinking experience.

The glass tilts due to its shape, but you can get a glass that has a stainless steel ball attached to the bottom. Pivot the glass and the ball keeps it at an angle

What size is a proper whisky glass?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as it depends on how you drink whisky. A single shot of whisky with no ice or mixer is fine in a small shot glass, but whisky and Coke will need a highball glass.

A whisky tumbler holds 10 fluid ounces (around 300ml), but even if you add water or ice to the whisky, don’t fill it to the top. A whisky glass needs space between the top of the liquid and the top of the glass. Tasting whisky is about aromas as much as it is about taste. A wide tumbler allows the nose to go into the top of the glass to savour the aromas for a while before drinking.

A shot glass can hold between 1 and 2 ounces (30-60ml), but it’s less important what the capacity of a shot glass is, as it is designed for fast drinking of a single or double measure of spirits.

How much whisky should you put in your whisky glass?

Again, this is up for debate. A single shot of whisky served in bars as defined by the UK Weights and Measures Act is 25ml in England, rising to 35ml in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Though you can buy spirit measures for home use, few whisky drinkers bother measuring, preferring to judge the amount they pour by sight.

People who like expensive single malt whisky tend not to pour small servings. They pour out what is approximately a 25 ml to 35 ml measure in a tumbler. This allows the aromas of the whisky to fill up the rest of the glass so that they can enjoy the smell of the whisky before a drop touches their lips.

A whisky-based cocktail will have a recipe for the quantity of each ingredient. To maintain the taste balance, it’s recommended to stick to these quantities. Due to its strong taste, too much whisky in a cocktail can overpower the flavour.

Do whisky glasses make a good present?

Absolutely! A whisky glass is an ideal gift for someone who enjoys the drink. Give whisky glasses for special occasions or to celebrate achievements. To make the occasion extra special, engrave the glasses with the person’s name and the reason why they are receiving a gift, such as an anniversary or accolade.

If you want an idea for a special social evening, hold a whisky tasting experience. Buy a few select bottles of single malt whisky and pour small measures into engraved whisky glasses. Use your own knowledge or search the internet for tasting notes. At the end of the evening, present each guest with their own whisky glass engraved with their name as a reminder of the occasion.

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